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Barry O’s story

Barry's cocaine and alcohol addiction was destroying his life. The Bridges helped him start again.

I found myself drinking by the canal one morning in the freezing cold, 14 months into one of my worst relapses yet. I was homeless, poor, and in absolute hell. The only thing keeping me going was the thought of pinching another bottle of wine when the shops opened. An hour later I’d been arrested.

I did a lot of work on myself over the next nine months I spent in prison. From day one, I was running in the yard, rebuilding my fitness. I didn’t drink or use, and slowly I recovered my relationship with my family, who were waiting to escort me to the train up to rehab on my release.

Probation didn’t want to refer me to rehab at first because I was considered too high risk, but luckily, I managed to get a place at The Bridges in Hull. Because my train was delayed, I rocked up to The Bridges that night four hours late. Settling in on my first night, I could barely believe I’d made it myself.

I learnt a lot of a lot of hard truths at The Bridges. First, I came to accept that I can’t drink again. I found that quite sad because I’ve had so many fun times drinking. But now I know that if I have just one sip of alcohol, I’m gone – it’s as simple as that.

Since graduating from the programme, The Bridges staff have helped me get my own flat down by the marina as well, and I can’t wait to get settled.

Doing the 12 steps, I also discovered that I’m quite a selfish person, so I’ve been counteracting that by being selfless: through charity work, sponsoring others in recovery, and giving pro bono personal training. It’s funny, everything used to be about the money for me, but now I get so much fulfilment from doing stuff for free. I love taking the boys at The Bridges to the gym every week, and during lockdown it benefited us all to do some outdoor workouts.

I remember when I first heard about The Bridges, I turned my nose up because I didn’t want to live in Hull. But I love it here – I only have good people around me. Since graduating from the programme, The Bridges staff have helped me get my own flat down by the marina as well, and I can’t wait to get settled. I’m in no hurry whatsoever to leave. Hull, and The Bridges, saved my life.

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The Bridges residential rehab

The Bridges is Forward’s men-only residential rehab, providing full-time accommodation and support for up to 23 weeks.

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I’ve now made friends with lots of people in the group. I also have a better understanding of what my son went through, and I think others in the group have an insight into how family members are trying to deal with their own situations.

Paul N, Former client and volunteer Read Paul’s story